ARLINGTON, Va. - A four-month search to find a new president forNASCUS has ended. Mary Martha Fortney, a 10-and-a-half year veteranof the association who had served as acting president/CEO sinceAug. 1, 2003 when former president/CEO Doug Duerr was dismissed,was named president/CEO of NASCUS. Fortney was one of sevencandidates who was included on a list of seven finalists for thespot. A seven-person search committee chaired by Jim Forney,superintendent of credit unions, Iowa Department of Commerce,Credit Union Division and which included four state regulators -NASCUS Chairman Roger Little, deputy commissioner, Credit UnionDivision, Division of Financial Institutions of the Michigan Officeof Financial Insurance Services served as ex officio for thecommittee - and three members of the NASCUS Council includingChairman Michael Litzau, president/CEO, Colorado Central CU,received 44 applications for the opening and whittled the list downto the final seven after reviewing applicants' resumes. The namesof other candidates who applied for or were considered for theposition were kept confidential, but former NCUA Board member GeoffBacino, a co-founder of the National Association of State CharteredCredit Unions which merged with the NASCUS Credit Union Council in1999, had been rumored as a possibility for the position. Bacino,however, is joining CENTRIX Financial as executive vice presidentfor legislative affairs. Final interviews were conducted by thesearch committee on Jan. 4 and 5 before it made its recommendationto the NASCUS Board. Little said the board had the choice ofaccepting the search committee's recommendation, done additionalinterviews on their own, or directed the search committee toconduct more interviews. The NASCUS Board accepted the searchcommittee's recommendation of Fortney. "Mary Martha has proven shecan do the job," said Little. "The search committee did a thoroughand diligent national search. Despite her career history withNASCUS, nothing was guaranteed, but I'm confident the searchcommittee made the right choice. Mary Martha has demonstrated herconsiderable talent and ability by serving as our actingpresident/CEO these past five months and she has served NASCUS withdistinction since 1993. Her familiarity with the unique structureof the organization, her clear understanding of our goals andpriorities, and her ability to lead were qualities that the SearchCommittee found precisely suited our needs." Fortney said she alsonever assumed she was a shoe-in for the president's spot. "Youalways think you have the perfect credentials for a position, butgood Catholic girl that I am with good Catholic guilt, I thought ofall the things I could have possibly done that would have caused menot to get the job. But I accepted the position with a measure ofboth humility and pride. It's a challenge for which my past 10years have been preparing me," said the 56-year old Fortney. Butdespite her uncertainty over whether she'd be selected for theposition, the former vice president of regulatory affairs forNASCUS never left a doubt she was interested in the president'sspot. She threw her hat into the ring to be considered for theposition soon after Duerr's dismissal. "I made it very clear fromthe beginning that I wanted the position and felt well-qualifiedfor it," she said. "But even when it was down to the final stretch,there were no guarantees." Over her more than 10-year career withNASCUS, Fortney has also been director of accreditation andcommunications which was her position when she began her NASCUSemployment. Before becoming acting president, Fortney served asstaff liaison to the NASCUS Association and Credit Union CouncilRegulatory Development Committees. Prior to joining NASCUS, sheworked as director of Agency Liaison in the Office of PresidentialCorrespondence in the Carter White House for nearly four years, andfor 12 years on Capitol Hill, where she was employed as thelegislative director for a member of the U.S. House ofRepresentatives and as majority staff director for the Subcommitteeon General Oversight and Investigations of the House Committee onBanking, Finance and Urban Affairs. Fortney realizes she iscurrently the only president/CEO of a national credit unionassociation, but she cited NCUA Board members Jo Ann Johnson andDeborah Matz as examples of "professional and capable" women whoare in credit union leadership roles. She added that "NASCUS andits boards have been well represented in the past by women." On thestate regulator side, she cited by example Jerrie Lattimore,administrator of the North Carolina Credit Union Division, SharonWhiddon, financial administrator for the Florida Division ofBanking, Ginger Larson, director of the Wisconsin Office of CreditUnions, Linda Jekel, director, Washington Division of CreditUnions, and former Illinois Supervisor of the Credit Union DivisionSarah Vega. Among some of the women who are credit unionpresidents/CEOs who have represented the NASCUS Council are formerCouncil Chair Lori Rush, president/CEO, Universal 1 CU; Grace Mayo,president/CEO, Telesis Community CU; and Jo Anne Filwock,president/CEO, Financial Health CU. But Fortney said if there's anybarrier she'd like to see broken, "it's the one that keeps mostwomen from heading very large asset credit unions. There are just afew exceptions to that, but too few. "Obviously there will be somepeople who will play this up, but I'm confident most people will bewatching to see me continue to do well, not to see me stumble," shesaid. That includes, she said, former NASCUS president/CEO DougDuerr who contacted Fortney to wish her well when he learned thenews of her appointment. Still, Fortney realizes that she hasbecome president/CEO of NASCUS at a critical time in the creditunion movement's history. "Coming in as president any time is verycritical, but NASCUS has clearly matured over the more than 10years that I've been here. NASCUS has played and will continue toplay an important part in the credit union movement. Clearly we'vebecome the authoritative voice of the state credit union system,"she said. Fortney continued to explain that during the crafting ofH.R. 1151, "it was key that the method by which NCUA works withstate regulators is statutorily contained in H.R. 1151 with regardto writing MBL and PCA regulations. Now, with the federal systemadopting many state initiatives, it lends not only passing credenceto, but verifies the important part played by the state system."Fortney sees NASCUS' main role now as fostering the growth andstrength of the dual chartering system. "Everyone agrees that thereneeds to be the dual chartering option. Working in partnership iskey and critical, promoting the option is first and foremost," shesaid. Also on NASCUS' radar screen are taxation challenges likeUBIT, preemption of state laws, capital reform, and reforming theadministration of NCUA to clearly separate the functions ofregulator and share insurance fund management. "Although NASCUSfirmly believes the NCUSIF should remain within NCUA and NCUAshould remain an independent federal agency, we believe a clearerdistinction between the chartering, regulatory and supervisoryfunctions, and the insurance function needs to be made, as the GAOrecommended in 1991" she said, emphasizing that NASCUS "commendsthe NCUA Board on focusing more attention on its two roles and thedistinction between NCUA's management of the share insurance fundand the agency's regulatory responsibilities for federal creditunions." Fortney would also like to grow NASCUS' accreditationprogram - there are currently 27 state regulatory agencies that areNASCUS accredited -expand NASCUS' educational offerings, enhanceeffective state examination programs, and continue to buildpartnerships with CUNA and NAFCU, as well as organizations andassociations such as the National Council of State Legislators, theSecurities Administrators Association, the State FinancialRegulators Roundtable, and the Conference of State BankSupervisors." "NASCUS, like CUNA and NAFCU, are all vital creditunion associations, but our membership differentiates us," saysFortney. "We have state regulators that are government employeesthat comprise our membership, as well as CEOs of state-charteredcredit unions. It's not our name that differentiates us from thecredit union trade associations, it's our membership," Fortneyexplains. But does NASCUS' unique membership and the fact that theassociation's president/CEO has to answer to a regulator board anda credit union board, also create unique pressures for Fortney? Shedoesn't think so. "The responsibilities I have with working withtwo boards isn't anything new. Their responsibilities dovetailnicely," Fortney says. "There is no internal power struggle betweenthe two, and it is inappropriate to represent two boards as beingantagonists. The two boards work well together and have greatrespect for one another. As difficulties have arisen over theyears, the internal processes have developed to deal with them. Thetwo boards mesh, even though it may not look like that from theoutside. There may be differing opinions on certain issues, butthere's never a conflict of interest. I don't feel sandwichedbetween the NASCUS Board and the Council Board." At this pointsince her presidency is still so new - Fortney was interviewedthree days after she was named to the position - she said it's "toopremature" to know if there will be any additional organizationalchanges at NASCUS. "I don't envision any sweeping changes ormakeovers," she said, "except that my former position is now vacantand as CEO I have to hire someone for that staff position. Anychanges will evolve naturally." "I always envisioned myself workingfor a policy making association that was committed to its purposeand that I could commit to," said Fortney. "That's just what I'mdoing now and it's that commitment that I bring to my new job."-

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